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Saturday, Oct 1, 2011County: Jefferson
Case Images: 2 files available
Alleged: Daniel D. Wright, Jr.
For weeks in one Harvey neighborhood, there have been numerous reports of missing cats, while some animals have turned up with severe injuries.
Thursday afternoon, authorities announced the arrest of 18-year-old Daniel Wright, Jr., who they accuse of mutilating and torturing the animals.
Authorities connected Wright to what they describe as brutal attacks on several cats in the mostly quiet Harvey neighborhood where he lives.
"(A detective) confirmed that there were a number of reported cases, approximately ten incidents, where animals had been mutilated or set on fire," said Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand.
During a polygraph exam, investigators were able to learn that Wright wasn't being truthful about the incidents, and eventually got him to admit to the cruelty. He said he would lure the animals with food, and initially starved them to make them suffer. When that didn't satisfy his cravings, Wright said he began slicing their ears and then burning them. Wright also tortured a possum.
News of Wright's arrest didn't come as a surprise to one of his neighbors, who recalled numerous run-ins with the teenager.
"You can't tell (Wright) anything. He retaliates," said neighbor Robert Buisson. "You never know what else he'll do. The police are always (at his house)."
It's a point authorities confirmed Thursday. Wright was already on probation on a burglary charge, and the alleged attacks on animals, Normand said, are concerning.
"Daniel has had a troubled past. He's got a fairly lengthy criminal record," he said. "This young man has issues, serious issues."
Wright has had at least a dozen prior arrests for incidents ranging from theft, to criminal damage to carnal knowledge of a juvenile.
Authorities worked closely with the Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter in cracking the case -- one shelter officials hope will raise awareness about these types of crimes.
"It's really important that we can target and identify some of these behaviors at an earlier age," said Robin Beaulieu, a shelter spokeswoman. "There's a proven link between animal abuse, domestic abuse, and violent crimes, sex offender crimes, a lot of different issues."
Wright is being charged with 10 counts of aggravated cruelty to animals and is being held at the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center in Gretna on a $1 million bond.
Officials said one cat had to be euthanized due to its injuries, while several others are being treated.
Two of the injured cats are up for adoption, officials said.
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